By Greg Barber 903254
#517231 Yeah ok, so most of you young whipper snappers won't get the reference in the title but oh well...

This is a long post but I encourage everyone to stay til the end as it's where I acknowledge some of the most important people to our hobby in our region. Something that has largely gone unsaid since any of this happened.

Unless you've been sleeping under a rock for a few weeks you will be fully aware that ealier this month, 4 out of the 5 VATPAC Board Members more or less simulataneously resigned from their posts. I have been asked on several occasions to provide some insight as to why and I have been reluctant to do so to allow the new Board to find their feet. I believe the time has come to put some answers out there. I can't speak specifically to the motives of my 3 colleagues however I have discussed their concerns both before and after the event to the point where I have a general understanding.

So here goes....

In the last 6 months there has been a dramatic shift in the organisational culture of both VATSIM as a whole and the VATSIM Oceania region. This cultural shift is one towards the model of a corporate or political entity, rather than a volunteer organisation run for the benefit of its members. This cultural shift is driven by the personal views of the current VATSIM Oceania Regional Director, Mr Joel Richters.

The shift has had the effect of alienating the staff of both VATPAC and VATNZ to a point where the afformentioned resignations took place, and across the ditch the VATNZ board saw the need to post a statement of no confidence on their forums.

This shift has been supported at every juncture by the leaders of VATSIM, the VATSIM Board of Governors despite several attempts by myself and others to raise awareness of the true effects of this regional focus and attitude with the BoG. Essentially the VATSIM BoG saw this regional focus as a good thing.... let's explore that for a moment and look at why I couldn't support it.

Part of this regional focus was a restructure which was brought to me as an idea during our Regional Staff Meeting in July 2017. This restructure included an increase in the staffing of the regional office from 3 members to 8 or 10 members, including the PAC and NZ DCRMS being listed as regional staff (a clear contradiction to the VATSIM structure, after all the D stands for Divisional). Of course VATSIM see this action as a good thing because the regional director is assembling the team around him he needs to move the region forward. What they perhaps do not consider is that such a restructure essentially hand-picks valuable divisional staff and removes them from their role at a divisional level. Essentially there is nowhere else for these additional staff to come from. This issue was raised by representatives of both VATPAC (myself) and VATNZ during this meeting. My recollection of the outcome of that meeting (forgive as to the best of my knowledge there is still no official record of that meeting) was that the restructure was on hold pending further discussion of the above difficulties. On August 6th 2017 the first parts of this restructure were announced publicly, without the knowledge of either Divisional leadership, including some detail outlining the very changes the previously raised concerns were about. The appointments raised at the time were hand-picked from the Regional Director's personal friendship group, without due process or any public announement of the duties, roles, responsibilities or performance criteria associated with any of those roles.

As a result of the above events I saw no way of moving forward in good faith, knowing that the Divisional leadership would continue to be undermined in such a way and with the apparent unwavering support of the VATSIM Board of Governors. All they see is the businessman. They are completely blind to the trail of destruction that businessman leaves behind. Such an approach cannot be sustainable in an organisation entirely run by volunteers, an I for one could not be a part of it.

In the lead up to the above flash point, the VATPAC Board had received numerous requests for unprecedented access to all systems and documents relating to the administration of VATPAC. On these numerous occasions the VATPAC Board had responded within the VATSIM Code of Regulations which requires divisions to give "administrative access" to all boards, forums and newsgroups associated with the Division. The regional Director wanted much more than this and it became clear that he was preparing for a situation where the VATPAC Board were no longer in place and he would need to handover the administration either to a regional based administrator to new Divisional leadership. While I recognise this is a necessary approach, I am still of the opinion that the removal of the VATPAC Board was the goal of the regional director since his appointment in April 2017. This feeling further undermined the confidence of myself and my team where I am aware they all felt similarly distrusted and used by the regional office and the VATSIM Board of Governors.

This notion is further supported by the fact that within 15 minutes of receiving my resignation, a new Divisional Director was announced, having again been directly appointed behind closed doors. Shortly after, the remaining 3 board positions were filled by personnel who had previously served and had left due to time commitments. But anway, this is not about those poor souls who have taken on their new roles. While the future of VATSIM in the region may appear to be bright, I do not believe the new VATPAC Board have any say in it.

In closing I would like to further thank the following people for their efforts as VATPAC Senior Staff during my time on the VATPAC Board. While these people have received heartfelt support from the VATPAC Members, it is quite conspicuous the complete lack of appreciation shown by those of whom we so readily "served at the pleasure." If I have forgotten anyone, I do apologise, but I've been here a long time and my memory is fading:

Zach Biesse-Fitton: You are a talented, driven and intelligent young man who is destined for great things. You were always available and willing to help, even when things were chellenging for you in your career and personal endeavours. Thank you.

Peter Adamos: A mature head on young shoulders who was able to apply an analytical approach to the management of ATC Training within our region. Having come from Director ATC Training to lead the division I can appreciate the commitment required. Thank you for your time and effort.

Kurt D'Amico: I remember commenting recently after you announced to me some major updates to Local Instructions, "It's funny you know, you have done this work for us because you want to, not because you have been asked or told to." That message still rings true and highlights how wrong the attitudes of those mentioned above are. You worked hard because you wanted to. You inspired others to help where you could not. Thank you.

Ryan Steffe: Relatively new in the world of VATSIM, you have come a long way in a short space of time. I wish you well in your endeavours to become an Air Traffic Controller. Perhaps I will speak with you as such one day. :)

Aaron Cooper: Always the laid back, cruisy type bloke who would just put in the work required without question. You've been away a while but your contribution is not forgotten.

Peter Story: I don't know what VAPAC could have done without you. Your dedicate approach to improving systems for the development of our online tools was top rate. Your contribution in the last 12 months has been outstanding.

Richard Quigley: A newcomer to VATPAC staff but in no way a newcomer to VATSIM, your assistance in recent times has been much appreciated and I hope you can find the strength to go on doing whatever it is that you do.

The events guys: I won't name you all but you know who you are. You are the guys who would without prompting, keep your core group of events goers informed and keen. The weekly calendar updates, facebook posts, being there every time your own event responsibility was on is commitment beyond expression. Thanks you and keep it up.

And finally to our new VATPAC Board and our senior regional team: VATPAC Board, I applaud the way you have stepped up in difficult circumstances and looked toward the future. I apologise for leaving you with this mess but hopefully the above will go some way to explaining how it could not just go on. I implore you however to represent the interests of the VATPAC Members first and foremost. Regional Team, I still don't know what your deal is and while I agree with most of the ideas and dreams you have, the way you go about them is just as important. You can't think long term benefits if there's no-one around to reap those benefits.

Cheers for reading and sorry for the length of the post. I hope that it explains things and opens some eyes to what's really going on and maybe one day, will form the basis of a rethink.
By Joel Richters 891193
#517251 Hi Greg,

I was considering a reply to this post, to dispel the many false and misleading statements you have made, and continue to make. However I will remain strong and not be tempted.

All I will say is thank you for everything that you had done for VATPAC. Your efforts have been ingrained in to the ongoing history of the division and your leadership is undoubtedly what has left VATPAC a strong. You have given considerable time to the betterment of VATPAC and I thank you for that. After all is said and done, I truely respect you and hope you can find peace in your new freedoms.

Despite all this heartache the region has Continued to grow. We have bought onboard 80 new members in the last 30 days, and for those who can’t find their way, the Regional team will be ready to support them and get them active in their respective divisions. We have also been part of what I believe to be the very first aviation expo which was not simulation specific, and wow was it a fantastic day. Heaps of members came along to see us and also thousands of conversations with aviation enthusiasts and parents. And we are about to get our ATO certified and start offering the P1 course for new and old members to help those who need a little hand to get online.

All in all, this is what the Regional Team is doing to support both divisions. And the Divisions remain steadfast in their aim of providing the day to day support and activities for their active members.
By Svilen Vassilev 1175035
Greg Barber 903254 wrote:....This cultural shift is one towards the model of a corporate or political entity, rather than a volunteer organisation run for the benefit of its members....

This has been the bane of Vatsim's existence for as long as I remember. And there have been a lot of casualties along the way trying and failing to disrupt this model.
By Greg Barber 903254
I was considering a reply to this post, to dispel the many false and misleading statements you have made, and continue to make.

Joel, I hope you understand that the statements I make are my own opinions, feelings and perceptions of the events that transpired. I do not believe I have made an representation of fact except where the laying out the actual events that took place.

I am sure you know that when approaching conflict it is always important to consider not just how actions were intended but how they were received and perceived. That perception is what I refer to above, nothing more.

Anyway thanks for your kind words. I also used this post as a thank-you to a few others as well who's contributions have been just as significant and I hope they have all been to read this thread.

Just a couple of questions though.... You refer to 80 new sign ups in the last 30 days.
How many sign ups were there in the previous 30 days (we generally get about 900 per year so thinking it might have been about 80 :wink: )
How many of the 80 have signed into the network since signing up?
By Greg Barber 903254
Just a couple of questions though.... You refer to 80 new sign ups in the last 30 days.
How many sign ups were there in the previous 30 days (we generally get about 900 per year so thinking it might have been about 80 :wink: )
How many of the 80 have signed into the network since signing up?

Don't know what made me think there was going to be an answer.
By David Zhong 1027224
#518866 Andrew, you'll find that for the small number of school kids that volunteer their time to contribute to our community, they do an exceptional job. On the other hand, (just as with any organisation) we also have adults who have time to play politics.

Each member of the VATPAC board has over a decade of experience on the network and have spent many years toiling away in the background and foreground serving the membership - we are dedicated to the cause of doing the best we can for members and no more. For most of us, we had turned away due to real world commitments and have only returned to guide the division through this rough period and ensure that our next generation of leaders is ready to take the reins.

I can assure you that the division is and will be in good hands. The proof of the pudding is in the eating and if you attend any of our numerous events or decide to further your ATC training you can see this for yourself!